BLOG: Detroit builder worried over lost business says he was told to buy Kilpatrick suit

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with day 41 of the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs all the news from federal court:

12:50--The end: And that's all for today.  Thanks for joining us.

12:39--Mayor never asked: Thomas says, and Akinwusi acknowledges, that he was never asked by Mayor Kilpatrick to buy him a suit, it was only suggested by the tailor.

Akinwusi says that he never received any thanks from Kilpatrick, and in his interview with the FBI, Akinwusi wondered whether the tailor ever provided the Mayor with the suit.

12:28--Access: Thomas is showing Akinwusi the mayor's calendar from 2003, where it shows that he, Bobby Ferguson and members of JOA met with Kilpatrick.  Therefore, Thomas says, it seems Akinwusi didn't need any help getting access to he mayor (like buying him a suit). Akinwusi disagrees.

12:12--FBI interview: Akinwusi is being asked by Thomas about his initial interview with the FBI.  Akinwusi says he told the feds he never bought Kilpatrick a suit, or gave him cash.  Of course, now he says he did buy him a suit.

12:09--Ask for money: To finish up his cross-examination, Evelyn asked Akinwusi if he ever asked Michael Woodhouse for $5,000.  Evelyn implies that Akinwuski asked recently.

Akinwusi said Woodhouse never gave him money, but said he couldn't recall if he ever asked. 

Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas is up now.

11:49--Short break: Five minutes for everyone in the courtroom to stretch their legs.

11:36--Woodhouse's work: Evelyn suggests that Woodhouse and Xcel had to step-up his work on the project because JOA had fallen down on the job.  Akinwusi disagrees, and says that Woodhouse mostly just took notes at the meetings and wrote-up the minutes.

11:17--Lots of minutes: It seems like the defense is planning to go through a slew of meeting minutes here.  Evelyn continues to pull out page after page, and they all seem to show the same thing: Xcel was doing work, and Akinwusi wasn't in attendance.

11:12--No show, again: Make that four meetings.  Evelyn just showed another set of minutes where Akinwusi's lack of attendance is noted.

11:08--No show: Evelyn is showing minutes from meetings that JOA and Xcel held during project planning.  For at least three of them, Akinwusi didn't attend (Woodhouse did).  How can Akinwusi know Woodhouse didn't perform any work, Evelyn is asking, if he didn't even attend the meetings?

10:55--Xcel working: We're back, and Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn is showing the jury some documents from a 2003 meeting between JOA and Xcel, which lists what each party was responsible to complete for this joint job.

The document shows that XCel's Michael Woodhouse was responsible for taking photos of the work site and "start detailed scheduling after physical needs assessment."  Evelyn's point: Woodhouse had to do work for this job. 

10:24--Break time: And with that, we're taking our 20 minute morning break. Stay with us, folks. 

10:23--Woodhouse's involvement: Evelyn is trying to show that Woodhouse did a lot of work on this project, like preparing a budget and being involved in a lot of the planning.

10:12--More risk: JOA took on more of the risk in the Heilmann job than Xcel, but they also received more of the work, says Evelyn.  About 65%. 

10:10--Woodhouse history: Evelyn points out that Akinwusi and Michael Woodhouse have known each other dating back to the 1980s.  Woodhouse trained some of Akinwusi's employees at JOA. 

10:02--Memory issues? Evelyn is trying to point out some difficulty that Akinwusi has had with dates.  In his interviews with the FBI, apparently he got some years wrong.  Akinwusi acknowledges that his memory wasn't perfect with regard to years. 

Akinwusi also said he thought he met with the FBI three times when, actually, the total was five.

9:58--Brand new witness: Remember, Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted back in 2008.  Think the feds had this case set in stone months or even years ago?  Wrong.  Akinwusi said he wasn't contacted by the feds until September 26 of this year. The trial had already started. 

9:52--Health issues: Akinwusi said he suffered a stroke in 2007, causing him to close his business JOA. 

He said he told Bobby Ferguson that he was hoping to get more city work, but says Ferguson told him he needed to resolve issues he had with his partner Michael Woodhouse first.

Akinwusi said he wasn't aware of any issues with Woodhouse. He says he hasn't talked to Ferguson since.

Blackwell is done with her questioning of Akinwusi.  Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn is first up to cross-examine the witness. 

9:50--Whole truth? Blackwell is asking whether, during his initial interviews with FBI agents for this case, Akinwusi told them about buying suits for the Kilpatrick.  No, he said. 

"I was scared when they showed up in my office.  I didn't know what to do," he said.

The feds are surely bringing this up because they knew the defense will later on, so they would rather put their own spin on it. 

9:48--Re-election time: When  Kwame Kilpatrick faced re-election in 2005, Akinwusi said he was given envelopes by Bobby Ferguson to collect donations.  Akinwusi said he passed out the envelopes to some of his subcontractors, and collected about $32,000. 

"Subcontractors wanted to support the mayor to get work," Akinwusi said.

9:44--Xcel paid: Xcel was paid $151,185 between 2003 and 2006.  Akinwusi said he didn't believe the company earned it, but he was afraid if he didn't pay, he would be sued or lose the business.

"Why didn't you make them do work on the contract?" Blackwell asked.

"I didn't want to create waves on the job," Akinwusi said.

"If I didn't pay Bobby, the job will not go."

9:39--Ferguson Enterprises: Ferguson Enterprises performed demolition work on the site.  Akinwusi was concerned.

"Since they were a partner, I thought that might be a conflict of interest," Akinwusi said.

He didn't complain though, adding: "I didn't want to create an issue that would slow the job down."

9:36--Winner, winner: JOA and Xcel's joint venture was selected by the DBA as the winning bid.  Xcel wanted 36% of the work for this project, but Akinwusi says they didn't offer any manpower to help with the project.

"They did not provide employees on the job," Akinwusi said. 

Normally, both companies in a joint venture provide employees to perform work, he said.  This was an unusual partnership.

9:33--Chosen: Five proposals were selected to be presented at to the Detroit Building Authority (DBA); one of them was Akinwusi's, which was a partnership with Ferguson's Xcel Construction. 

9:28--Partnered with Bobby: Akinwusi said that when he started to prepare a bid proposal for the recreation center, he was approached by Xcel construction employee Michael Woodhouse.  The company was linked to Bobby Ferguson. Woodhouse wanted to partner up.

Akinwusi says he's not sure how Woodhouse knew that he was sent a bid proposal in the mail, but said he thought he had a good chance of winning the bid.

"I knew that Woodhouse and Bobby were close to the mayor," Akinwusi said.

9:25--Package in the mail: Akinwusi said he received a bid package in the mail for the Heilmann Recreation Center after he picked up the tab for the fancy suit.  Later on, he was approached by the mayor's Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, who asked for a donation to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.

Akinwusi obliged, writing a check for $10,000.

"That was the amount that was asked," Akinwusi said.

9:23--Costly suit: Akinwusi said he bought Kilpatrick new suits--spending $8,000 to buy some for both him and the former Mayor.  Blackwell asked why.

"I wanted to be able to get a job in the city," he said.

For the record, I recently bought a new suit from Macy's for $195.  Real nice.  Made in Indonesia, though.

9:20--Contracts stop: Akinwusi said that in 2002, when Kilpatrick took office, he stopped receiving contracts from the city.  He said he spoke to a clothing store owner in Detroit who he knew was a friend of Kwame Kilpatrick's.

"He told me to write a letter to the mayor, to tell him what I've done for the city and what I'm about to do, and he advised that there were clothes in layaway that I should pay for," Akinwusi said.

Apparently, Kilpatrick had suits on layaway in the clothing store, which Akinwusi paid for.

9:18--New witness: Johnson Akinwusi of JOA Construction is now on the stand.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell is handling questions for the prosecution. 

Akinwusi testifies that he performed work during the Dennis Archer administration, performing work on federal buildings downtown.  He also donated $2,500 to Gil Hill for his 2001 run for mayor.

9:10--Change order: Earlier in the trial, Paskiewicz testified that Ferguson was paid $3.1 million from a change order for a city job.  However, Rataj just showed the jury an invoice that appears to show that money went to another company. 

He's done with questioning now.  Time for a new witness. 

9:07--Funny start: The morning's started with a chuckle here at federal court.

"Good morning Agent Paskiewicz, how are you this morning?" asked Ferguson lawyer Mike Rataj.

Paskiewicz responded: "Good morning. We'll see."

9:00--Day 41: Welcome back, folks.  We're getting started on time today for the first time in a while.  Still on the stand (for her third straight day now) is EPA agent Carol Paskiewicz .  Once she's finished testifying, we expect the government to open a new chapter of this case with allegations that Bobby Ferguson was paid for work at a Detroit recreation center that he never performed.

Have a question or comment for Ross?  E-mail him at rjones@wxyz.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter @RossJones7 or like him on Facebook.

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